Communities for growing older in lower Orange County, California?
July 3, 2013 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm helping an early-older-age couple with their idea of possibly relocating from New Mexico to Southern California in the coming years. We are looking for thoughts about a region we're unfamiliar with.

They don't feel limited to 'retirement communities'. It's too early for talking with realtors and they've found realty sites aren't forthcoming.

Their priorities are low maintenance and pleasant, vicinity of good health care, and reasonably easy driving access to family in Long Beach (such as sticking to the 1 more than the 405). Economically modest and humble, as far as Orange County goes.

They are thinking about the region between Long Beach and San Clemente. They nixed the Inland Empire as too far and hot. Upper OC might involve freeways too much as they get older. I imagine most of LA county is too far and complicated for their needs.

Probably a suburban condominium or bungalow where they can make a home assuming years of good health but easing the responsibilities of ownership and mobility as they age. Close to family but not intrusive.

Geographically, they began thinking with Newport. Should they look in Huntington Beach? Irvine, Lake Forest, Laguna? We just don't know those communities.

Other ideas?

Thanks in advance!
posted by methinks to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Budget matters here -- Newport and Laguna (and on south toward San Clemente) will be the priciest. Really pricey. Huntington, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach will be more affordable.

There are plenty of retirees in Seal Beach, from what I can tell (I live in SE Long Beach, just across the county line); some of that is due to Leisure World, which is in Seal Beach.

I think I'd push for Seal Beach. It's tucked out of the way, it's affordable, it's got all the stuff you need in a relatively small area, it's got a cute beach city main street, it's not overrun with beach-goers in the summer months (Huntington Beach, Newport, Laguna -- forget it), it's close to family in the LBC.

I like Sunset Beach for the same reasons, but it's got less of the self-contained small town vibe.

If the budget is bigger -- then South Orange County is really tops in terms of weather and beaches. I'd investigate Balboa Island. Not quite so good for small town convenience, and of course, South OC is an enclave of rich white people, which may or may not be the folks bag, socially or politically.
posted by notyou at 12:45 PM on July 3, 2013

When you say "economically modest and humble" it might be best if you could give an ideal ballpark for how much they're willing to pay for a house (and what size they want it to be, roughly). Because if they want to be on the coast in Orange County "economically modest and humble" isn't a good starting point.
posted by yoink at 1:13 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd second the suggestion of Seal Beach, and also second considering Huntington Beach, or Sunset Beach. They're right next door to Long Beach, and depending on neighborhood, range from quiet and suburban to bustling and semi-suburban.

That said, there are lots of suburban northern OC communities where you can take one street all the way to Long Beach and never have to touch a freeway. The benefit to northern OC compared to southern OC is that, as they age, straight streets that cross giant stretches between and through cities might be easier to navigate than the winding, often confusing streets that characterize major south OC streets. Remember, Huntington Beach is, believe it or not, totally part of north OC.

Willow St., in Long Beach, turns into Katella Ave. when it hits the OC border. Katella crosses all of north OC, turning into Santiago Canyon road when it hits the hills that denote the edge of south OC. All along Katella there are tons of mid-1950s suburban communities, and there are some real gems in there that would definitely be "modest and humble" by OC standards. The same goes for Westminster Ave., which becomes Ocean Blvd in Long Beach. Some neighborhoods are better than others in that area, so it pays to get a feel for the neighborhood, which I suppose is probably good advice anytime you're considering moving somewhere.
posted by smoq at 1:17 PM on July 3, 2013

Best answer: Re the "economically modest and humble" thing: I just had a look at Seal Beach on Zillow. Outside of Leisure World, the cheapest place available (filtering for minimum of "two bedroom" and "1.5 bathroom") was 800K.
posted by yoink at 1:29 PM on July 3, 2013

Best answer: As corny as it sounds, my Grandfather and his Sister-in-Law lived together in a condo at LeisureWorld in Seal Beach and it was gorgeous!

It's pretty Modest and Humble too, some 1b/1b condos go for around $100k. You'll pay for amenities, but hey, you'd pay for that stuff as you age anyway. (Maintenance, etc.)

My Grandpa had his own golf cart and he played every day. On his last day, he had a great game, came home, ate some lunch and laid down for a nap and then he died. If he scripted his demise it wouldn't have been better than that.

Personally, when I was young, I was pretty dead set against those kinds of communities. Now that I'm 50, they look downright attractive!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:36 PM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your input.

I don't know precisely what their financial status is, only that he is fairly savvy and they were going to begin scouting around Newport, knowing the area might be out of their comfort zone. I've not known them to be "wealthy", though certainly stable and comfortable in northern New Mexico.

Zillow is a great reference that I'll send their way. And I didn't know about Leisure World. One of them would maybe quite like that structured retirement arrangement and one of them would probably not. Seal Beach certainly puts them right next door to family.

And it's an excellent point about the straight travel of the major streets through the county, and avoiding the freeways. Something like Orange or Tustin could be a nearly straight drive across to Long Beach, and they'd have Irvine Medical nearby.
posted by methinks at 5:02 PM on July 3, 2013

Best answer: How about Signal Hill? It's a really safe, quiet, self-contained little community tucked within the greater Long Beach area. It has it's own police force; has stores nearby; is close enough to the ocean that it's not blistering hot; is walkable to the local bus lines (Long Beach has pretty decent public transport, for SoCal); and isn't hideously overpriced.

Long Beach Memorial Medical Center is nearby there.
posted by nacho fries at 10:35 PM on July 3, 2013

Best answer: Stopping by to put in a good word for Belmont Shores in LB. Also, having them take a look at Brea and Fullerton might not be a bad idea either.
posted by jvilter at 7:18 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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